Each year, Georgetown McDonough students spend their summers working with corporate, nonprofit, and government organizations, volunteering, and pursuing their passions. While summer 2020 presented never-before-seen challenges, McDonough students rose above and made the most of an unprecedented summer.
Tell us about your summer.
This summer I interned remotely for six weeks at Altus Power America, a renewable energy investment company with about 25 employees that is based in Greenwich, CT. Altus builds large solar power plants on leased land, either on top of large roofs or fields, and sells the electricity generated to utilities over the next 25 years. Altus currently operates 142 different sites, all of which were either built from scratch or acquired from other solar companies. Altus recently partnered with Blackstone, a financial institution that agreed to provide Altus with almost $1 billion in growth capital. As a remote intern, I learned from employees about the nuances of the solar industry, state-by-state government incentive programs, and financial modeling in Excel. At the end of the six-weeks, I presented my analysis of Massachusetts’s solar market and state incentive programs to the partners of the firm. When I wasn’t interning this summer, I lifeguarded at my town beach, completed my SURF research project on Big Tech and antitrust policy, and read several books on history and contemporary foreign policy, two of my non-business interests. This fall, I will be interning full-time for Altus at their Greenwich office while also taking Georgetown classes part-time.
How did your internship relate to your professional or personal interests or aspirations?
Following my involvement with GUASFCU and the Hilltop Microfinance Initiative (HMFI) in my freshman year, I felt motivated to continue exploring the myriad of ways in which finance can be used to positively impact others. Impact investing has always been one of my chief professional interests because I find it incredibly fulfilling to have a substantive and beneficial influence on the world and see the results of your hard work manifested beyond just a computer screen. I believe that climate change will pose an existential threat to humans over the next century, and being able to work in a rapidly growing industry while also contributing to fossil fuel reduction was a win-win I knew I couldn’t miss out on.
How did you find this internship?
In May, a Georgetown classmate, who is also part of HMFI, messaged in the club’s Slack group chat that her sister, who works at Altus, was soliciting resumes of anyone interested in a remote internship at her firm. After speaking to her sister over the phone, I sent in my resume and was accepted to be one of the 12 virtual interns. This recruitment process made me realize how valuable it is to be involved in extracurriculars, as I wouldn’t have been made aware of this incredible opportunity ifI was not in HMFI.
What was the most interesting or impactful thing you worked on?
With a fellow intern I built an Excel model that would help Altus calculate their projected revenues for newly constructed sites in Massachusetts that would fall under the state’s latest incentive program, SMART. Using the size of the solar system, the size of the battery, the system’s location, and a whole bunch of other factors as inputs, the model generates the price per kWh that Altus would receive for its electricity over the next 10 years.
How was your internship adjusted because of coronavirus?
Altus usually takes only one or two interns each summer in person, but since the pandemic moved their intern program online, they decided to expand the size of their class to over a dozen students ranging from all college years and disparate geographic locations. Interning online, which involved completing assigned tasks and Zooming with our work teams, felt very similar to online school. That being said, I am very excited to finally get the chance to work at my own desk this fall and interact with Altus’ employees in person.
What did a typical day look like?
This fall, a typical day will involve getting up at 7:30 a.m. to make sure I’m in the Greenwich office by 9. At the office, I will work at my own desk and receive tasks from people at all levels of management. My work will build off of the skills developed during my remote internship, such as research, financial modeling, analyzing legal documents, and dealing directly with prospective clients. I will leave the office around 5 p.m. and stop by the local gym before heading home for dinner with my family.
Any advice for other students?
My advice for other students is to never disregard an opportunity simply because it does not match the traditional career path taken by many of the students around you. Grasp that you don’t need to enter college, or even your sophomore or junior year, knowing exactly what you want to do after graduation; I know I certainly didn’t. The societal pressure to make important career decisions early on forces us to take shortcuts and use heuristics like salary and prestige, and ignore important factors that influence your long term well-being like hours per week and job fulfillment. Please take the time to truly understand what you want to do and don’t focus too much on what others are doing. Talk to career counselors, go to your professors for advice, hop on the phone with Georgetown alums, and above all find your niche that you are passionate about and work your hardest to be the best you can be at that.